A drinkable cocktail of designer molecules is showing promise in stopping the development of dementia. A study in the journal Cell Reports finds that a cocktail based on an old antibiotic can keep amyloid beta peptides from binding to prion proteins—one of the first steps in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say the cocktail has also repaired synapses in the brains of rats… restoring memories. Scientists will now start testing the cocktail for toxicity.
If you’re using sugar substitutes as part of a weight loss resolution, a new study says “don’t bother.” In fact, the study in the journal BMJ finds there’s no compelling evidence that sugar substitutes help regulate any important health variable. Blood sugar levels and the risk of heart disease or cancer did not benefit from the use of saccharin, aspartame, or other artificial sweeteners. People who used plain old sugar ended up pretty much in the same place health-wise.
And finally… shaming people for what they do isn’t right… even though new research suggests that it can get people who engage in dangerous activities to quit. A study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs shows that smokers are more likely to quit if they’re told that their peers disapprove of smoking. However, experts warn that shaming people leads others to think that the bad effects of a bad habit are all their fault… and they deserve what they get.
Folate, or vitamin b-9, is an essential nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folic acid is often added to bread, flour, cereal, and pasta to help eliminate deficiencies. Now new research shows supplementation is more important than we thought, because once somebody is short on folate, the damage can’t be fixed. The study in the journal PNAS shows that folate deficiency triggers errors in chromosomes that are passed on as the cell divides. Once those changes occur, they’re permanent.
If you’ve ever fibbed to your doctor, you’re not alone. In fact, a study in the journal JAMA Network Open finds that between 60 and 80 percent of people are less than forthcoming to their doctors about things that could affect their health. People apparently want to avoid being judged or lectured by doctors… or sometimes, they’re simply too embarrassed to tell the truth.
Various forms of dementia are increasing… and now scientists have found that a single specific mutation in one gene can cause one of them. “Frontotemporal dementia” accounts for about 20 percent of all early-onset forms of the disease…. which can affect people as young as their 40’s. A study in the journal Translational Psychiatry has tracked down a single mutation as the cause… and researchers say the finding could be important for both treatment and in research on Alzheimer’s disease.
And finally… a new study shows that forcing kids to apologize usually backfires. The study in the journal Merrill-Palmer Quarterly finds that children who receive an insincere apology dislike the apologizing kid even more than they did before. Transgressors feel worse, too… and don’t learn to have empathy for their victim.
It’s well known that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is rising… but the speed of the increase is stunning researchers. A study in the journal Lancet Neurology finds that the number of people with dementia around the world has more than doubled since 1990. Researchers estimate that within about 30 years… more than 100 million people will be affected with dementia.
Air pollution is bad for your health… but researchers haven’t been able to quantify just how bad until now. A Danish study in the journal Environment International used advanced models to simulate the effects of pollution on large populations. It shows that cutting city pollution to the level found in the country could increase the lifespan of the average urban dweller by one full year.
And finally… it doesn’t take long to believe your own lies. And the older you are, the less time it takes. A study in the journal Brain and Cognition used EEG’s to monitor brain activity of people purposely telling lies… then telling the truth to the same questions 45 minutes later. Researchers found that people over 60 are much more likely than young people to accept as the truth a lie they had told less than an hour earlier. Apparently, scientists say, telling a lie scrambles the memory so people ultimately accept it as what really happened.
About two-thirds of people with dementia in the United States are women, and researchers are discovering it’s not just because they live longer. Reproductive history also plays a role. Scientists are focusing on the role of estrogen as a potential protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease. Several who are involved in this research explain.
Dr. Rachel Whitmer, Professor of Epidemiology, University of California-Davis
Dr. Heather Snyder, Senior Director, Medical and Scientific Operations, Alzheimer’s Association
Dr. Pauline Maki, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Illinois-Chicago
If dementia is recognized early, medication and coping strategies are very beneficial. However, dementia is often undiagnosed and untreated until it is far along. A newly developed online test can help assess if someone has mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia.
Dr. Douglas Scharre, Director, Division of Cognitive Neurology, Ohio State University
Are you worried about developing dementia? Well, lowering your blood pressure can cut the risk of memory decline. A SPRINT MIND study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference shows aggressively lowering blood pressure significantly reduces the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia among hypertension patients. Results also show significant cardiovascular benefits in people whose systolic blood pleasure was lowered aggressively to below 120. Experts suggest seeing your doctor and knowing your numbers.
Osteoporosis is responsible for as many as half of all fractures in women and one in four in men over the age of 50…but a new test could give people decades of warning. A study in the journal PLOS ONE describes a new genetic screening test that may predict a person’s future risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture. That would allow people to take vitamin D, calcium and participate in weight-bearing exercise to stave off later ill effects.
And finally…friendship might be priceless…but is it timeless? A new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows it takes more than 200 hours of togetherness before someone can be considered a close friend. But experts say it’s worth it. They say time and activity shared are strategic investments toward sustaining our belongingness needs.
Colorectal cancer rates have increased among people under the age of 50 and that’s why the American Cancer Society is now recommending adults undergo screening starting at age 45, rather than 50. The rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has risen 51 percent since 1994 yet doctors are struggling to pinpoint the reason. Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer among adults, and about 50,000 americans are expected to die of the disease in 2018.
For years, public health experts have been encouraging women to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects but a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows many women still don’t take them. The study shows fewer than five percent of low-income urban mothers take daily folic acid supplements before getting pregnant. Previous studies prove that use of these prenatal vitamins can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects in newborns. Experts suggest all women of reproductive age take folic acid since many pregnancies are unintended.
The belief that exercise can slow cognitive decline in older people with dementia has gained popularity. Yet new research shows that’s not true. A study in the journal BMJ says moderate to high intensity exercise can improve physical fitness but experts say it does not improve cognitive impairment, daily activities, behavior, or health-related quality of life.
And finally, everyone knows soda isn’t good for you. But it may be even worse than you think. A study in the journal Obesity Reviews shows that “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” but that some are worse than others, and soda may be one of the worst. Even if soda doesn’t make you gain weight, it can markedly increase the risk of other health-related issues.